Nicole Atkins @ Lee’s Palace

Nicole Atkins @ Lee's Palace
Nicole Atkins @ Lee’s Palace

. : : February 17th, 2008 : : .

There was something I loved about British girl-group, the Pipettes, that defied all logic.

I mean, they were the product of everything I hated about those late 90-s girl-groups (and boy-bands); contrived, manufactured, and reliant on that grrl-powered gimmick that the Spice Girls perfected a decade earlier.

Maybe it was the nostalgic 60s sound and matching costumes, or the infectiously cotton-candy sweet songs, but I just couldn’t get enough of them, and was thrilled to catch them performing at Lee’s Palace.

I knew nothing of opening band Nicole Atkins and the Sea, and it was a clever (but risk-taking) promoter who teamed her up with the Pipettes. While the Pipettes were sugar-coated, 60’s pop throwback with two-and-a-half minute, hook-filled pop songs, Nicole Atkins was orchestral-infused rock-teetering-on-punk with a voice so powerful it barely needed a microphone to be heard at the back of the venue.

I was instantly smitten, and picked up her debut EP and LPs, Bleeding Diamonds and Neptune City. The latter especially got frequent rotation is my household, and I dragged my brother out when she returned to town for a headlining gig three months later.

I hadn’t recorded the previous set (I was yet to really start taping shows myself!), but with new microphones in hand, there was no way I wasn’t going to capture her this time.

13-years have passed since that night, and I still remember my brother sitting against the wall in the booths that line Lee’s Palace, and me taking my usual position in front of the stacks. I’d looked back at him every few songs and embrace his rare smile and nod of approval. I can still feel the bass during Brooklyn’s On Fire rattling in my chest, and her rendition of The Door‘s The Crystal Ship still haunts me to this day. Maybe Tonight stands among the top of my all time favourite orchestra pop/rock songs, and is an absolute must-hear.

And her pipes! Oh, her pipes! This lady can belt it out like no other. Her sound has evolved tremendously and continuously with each passing album since, but at the centre of each record is that voice.

She has since dropped the various iterations of & the Sea and has released the last three long plays as “solo” titles, including the most recent, Italian Ice.

This recording is aged and my later tapes(even of Nicole Atkins) sound much better, but this is still a great, if thin-sounding tape that is well worth a listen for fans. It was the first stereo recording I ever did if I remember correctly, and although it could use another equalization, here’s how I originally put the recording out back in 2008.

  1. [intro]
  2. Neptune City
  3. Maybe Tonight
  4. Carouselle
  5. Party’s Over
  6. The Way It Is
  7. Cool Enough
  8. Kill The Headlights
  9. Jubilee [Benji Hewes]
  10. Together We’re Both Alone
  11. Brooklyn’s On Fire
  12. Teen Creep
  13. Love Surreal
  14. [encore]
  15. War Torn
  16. The Crystal Ship [the Doors]


Maybe Tonight (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

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